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Daniel Roman and Murodjon Akhmadaliev ready for war on Sept. 13

The unified 122-pound titleholder faces an accomplished amateur next month.

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai v Juan Francisco Estrada Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

WBA and IBF super bantamweight titleholder Daniel Roman and WBA mandatory challenger Murodjon Akhmadaliev will meet on Sept. 13 in New York, and it’s really one of the most intriguing fights on the current schedule.

Roman (27-2-1, 10 KO) started his career 8-2-1 but has gone on a 19-fight win streak that dates back to 2014, emerging in 2017 as much more than just a small hall fighter in California when he went to Japan for back-to-back wins over Shun Kubo and Ryo Matsumoto, winning and retaining the WBA 122-pound belt.

Since then, he’s defended successfully against Moises Flores, Gavin McDonnell, and TJ Doheny, the latter of which was a Fight of the Year contender on April 26, where the 29-year-old Roman picked up the IBF belt.

Akhmadaliev (6-0, 5 KO) doesn’t have that sort of pro experience, but the 24-year-old from Uzbekistan is plenty dangerous. He can punch and has skills, winning bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio in what was a stacked division where Robeisy Ramirez won gold and Shakur Stevenson took silver in a field that also included Michael Conlan.

On paper, you might even favor Akhmadaliev here — he’s a blue chipper or close to it, younger, probably a better puncher, probably better schooled in some ways.

But counting the feisty and himself talented Roman out would be foolish. This is a guy who has scrapped his way to the top without the backing of an elite power promoter, just fighting and winning until he got his shot, and then fighting and winning some more.

“Anyone that knows me understands that I’m a real fighter,” said Roman. “I’ll fight anyone they put in front of me. Akhmadaliev is hungry, but so am I. It wasn’t that long ago when I challenged for the WBA title so we’re not going to give it up. I’m here to fight and defend the WBA belt once more. I have two belts, but I want more. My goal is to get all of them so by no means am I overlooking Akhmadaliev. He has that amateur pedigree, can punch with power and likes to come forward. The second you underestimate someone, that’s when bad things happen. I’ll be ready for whatever he brings.”

Coming off of perhaps the best and biggest win of his career, Roman insists that he isn’t getting complacent.

“As a unified champion, I understand I have a target on my back,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been in the gym, staying sharp like I always do. There’s no time to relax and look back at what I’ve done because my work isn’t finished.”

Akhmadaliev, who fought on the same DAZN card as Roman-Doheny in April, no doubt saw that battle and knows he has to be ready for a brawl, which he says he is.

“I am very glad that Daniel Roman took this fight,” said Akhmadaliev. “I know that we are both warriors and this will be a real war! Don’t miss this fight!”

The Sept. 13 DAZN card featuring Roman-Akhmadaliev is headlined by Devin Haney vs Zaur Abdullaev, and will also have Heather Hardy vs Amanda Serrano and Michael Hunter vs Sergey Kuzmin.